National funding body says it will need to nearly double its budget

The funding body Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has said that €100 million (£89 million) will need to be added to its annual budget over the next few years in order to meet the goals of the government’s Innovation 2020 science strategy.

SFI is the national organisation responsible for allocating government research funds in Ireland.

Speaking at SFI’s recent annual review of 2017, its director general Mark Ferguson said that the budget for this year is €172.5 million, around 90% of which will be spent on long-term projects that SFI has already committed to fund. He added that this will have to increase to around €300 million in 2020 to keep pace with other countries who are investing more in research.

‘Under international benchmarking analysis we would predict that we would not hold our position, not because the quality is deteriorating, but because other people are investing more,’ he said. He also spoke about the need for improvements to science teaching in schools, and gender diversity among scientists working at the highest levels.